6 Hunting techniques
DOI link for 6 Hunting techniques
6 Hunting techniques book
The foregoing accounts only convey a partial impression of the signiﬁcance of hunting namonk ‘spells’. We had to discuss and debate them to unearth their signiﬁcance and only slowly did I become aware of their complex, multilayered, poetic import. It was of necessity an alien, unavoidably distorting exercise, like any translation with subliminal import. But the accounts at least afford a glimpse of the essence of hunting incantations, and the respect, even admiration, they express for the animals of the forest, with their sharp instincts making them difﬁcult to catch. They involve, as Feld (1996: 67) notes for various Kaluli musical genre, ‘imagining and creating expressive forms symbolically interpenetrated with environmental knowledge and appreciation’. But they are not otherworldly about these matters. According to hunters, they do not think that they call upon some supernatural force, for example the spirits of ancestors, to assist them when they recite spells. They are somehow efﬁcacious in their own right. While a belief that spells have magical power seems to be absent, it is possible that in part people expect these incantations to work because they serve to focus their emotional energies on the task in hand and urge it to a successful conclusion, in the same way as they seem nowadays to regard the power of mission-inspired prayer. Some may even mutter a prayer to Jesus today in lieu of a namonk ‘spell’. But as everyone is aware, an incantation is only as efﬁcacious as the trap over which they say it. If it is not set properly with due regard to the behaviour of the animal hunted, no amount of muttering, closing eyes, whistling or whatever will render it effective.